Control Options
Choosing the right control features will also make it easier to keep cool this summer. Look for multispeed fans and adjustable thermostats. Both let you fine-tune the output for maximum comfort. They also allow you to cool the space and then switch to lower settings for quieter operation — a concern for bedrooms. Digital controls, such as those on Carrier electronic models, offer precise temperature control and a timer for turning power on or off on a preset schedule.

Whether controls are located at the top, bottom or sides is another important shopping point. Top controls such as those on Frigidaire Compact Room Air Conditioners are easiest to reach if the unit will be installed in a window at waist level. Bottom or side controls are preferable for a through-the-wall unit that's installed at shoulder or head level. You can also opt for TV-style remote controls on digital models from Sharp Electronics. Adjustable louvers, which allow you to direct airflow, are another plus. Be sure they allow you to send the air in two directions if you'll be cooling a large space.

While you're at the store, practice removing the filter in front of the intake vents for cleaning. This is the only maintenance required on newer models, but it should be done every few weeks during the cooling season. The easier it is to reach the filter, the more likely it is that you'll keep it clean. The filter on Fedders units, among others, simply slides up and out of the unit without any screws or other fasteners to remove.

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